DELPHI, Ind. — Indiana authorities on Monday announced that they have made an arrest in the high-profile murders of two Delphi teens slain while hiking in 2017.
Richard Matthew Allen, 50, of Delphi, was booked Friday in connection with the murders of best friends Liberty “Libby” German, 14, and 13-year-old Abigail “Abby” Williams. The girls vanished Feb. 13, 2017, from the Monon High Bridge Trail, where they had decided to go for a hike.
Their bodies were found the following day.
Allen worked as a pharmacy technician at a CVS in downtown Delphi. Libby German’s grandparents, Mike and Becky Patty, told Fox 59 in Indianapolis that Allen was the person who processed the photos the German and Williams families used at the girls’ funerals.
He did not charge the families for the prints, the news station reported.
Allen is being held without bond in the White County Jail, according to the Indiana State Police.
Details of the case against Allen were sparse Monday as Indiana State Police Superintendent Doug Carter made the announcement. All charging documents in the case have been temporarily sealed.
“While I know you are all expecting final details today concerning this arrest, today is not that day.” Carter said. “Today is not that day.
“This investigation is far from complete, and we will not jeopardize its integrity by releasing or discussing documents or information before the appropriate time.”
Carroll County Prosecutor Nicholas McLeland admitted it was an “unusual” move to seal a probable cause affidavit.
“We don’t do it very often, in all the cases we handle here in Carroll County,” McLeland said. “We did it in this case because the investigation is still open. And while all cases are important, the nature of this case has some extra scrutiny in it. So, we, my office, me, felt it was important to seal those records.”
Carter gave credit for the developments to the “literally hundreds of media outlets that have been steadfast in reporting and keeping the memories of Abby and Libby front and center.” He also profusely thanked the many law enforcement agencies that have worked with his investigators to bring the case to a successful conclusion.
Watch Monday morning’s news conference below, courtesy of HLN.
The investigation is ongoing despite the arrest.
“We are going to continue a very methodical and committed approach to ensure that if any other person had any involvement in these murders, in any way, that person or persons will be held accountable,” the superintendent said.
‘Hiding in plain sight’
On Monday, McLeland addressed the fact that Allen is a member of the community in Delphi, a small city with fewer than 3,000 residents.
“It’s concerning that he’s a local guy,” the prosecutor said.
Following the news conference, Libby’s grandparents addressed the identity of their granddaughter’s alleged killer. The Associated Press reported that Mike Patty said the family always knew the killer could be “living right amongst us, hiding in plain sight.”
“That’s why we never stopped searching anywhere, because we didn’t know where he was,” Patty said.
The Pattys said they did not know Allen, though they may have run into him at some point in the small community.
CVSHealth, which confirmed Allen’s employment, issued a statement about his arrest.
“As members of the Carroll County community, we remain devastated by these murders, and our hearts go out to the German and Williams families,” read the statement, which was obtained by Fox 59. “We are shocked and saddened to learn that one of our store employees was arrested as a suspect in these crimes. We stand ready to cooperate with the police investigation in any way we can.”
Valentine’s Day tragedy
Libby and Abby had a day off from school on Feb. 13, 2017. According to the Indianapolis Star, the day was unseasonably warm, so the girls decided to end a sleepover at Libby’s house with a hike on the Monon High Bridge, an abandoned railroad bridge that spans Deer Creek east of Delphi.
A family member dropped the girls off around 1:45 p.m., and at 2:07 p.m., Libby posted a photo on Snapchat that showed Abby walking along the bridge.
When Libby’s father returned to pick up the pair a few hours later, they were gone. The family reported the girls missing around 5:30 p.m.
An extensive search for the missing teens turned tragic just after noon the following day when their bodies were found along the north bank of Deer Creek, about a half-mile from the bridge near the Delphi Historic Trail.
The girls had been murdered, though law enforcement officials have not said how they died.
Authorities quickly had a person of interest in the case thanks to Libby’s smartphone, which held video showing a man walking along the rail bridge near the girls. The phone also captured audio of a man who appeared to be talking to the pair.
Though much of the recording is unintelligible, the man can be heard saying, “Guys ... down the hill.”
Authorities have praised Libby for recording her suspected killer.
“That young lady is a hero, that is no doubt,” Indiana State Police Sgt. Tony Slocom said, according to WRTV in Indianapolis. “To have enough presence of mind to activate the video system on her cellphone to record what we believe is criminal behavior about to occur, there is no doubt in our mind that she is a hero.”
It was unclear Monday how Allen became a suspect, but he had never been named publicly as a person of interest in the case. Fox 59 reported that it is unknown whether he is connected to Ron Logan, who owned the property along Deer Creek where the girls’ bodies were found.
A search warrant previously made public alleged that Logan had given investigators false information about where he was on the day of the killings, the news station reported. His cellphone also pinged near the spot where the girls were found.
Logan died of complications of COVID-19 in January. He was never charged in the case.
The murders, which for five years had stymied detectives, received new attention in December when authorities discovered that a person using a fake online profile, “anthony_shots,” had communicated with Libby prior to her death.
The user of the account had agreed to meet the girl around the same time frame as the murders.
The account was ultimately linked to Kegan Kline, 28, of Peru, who reportedly admitted to creating the fake profile to meet young girls and receive explicit photos. WTHR in Indianapolis reported that Kline is set to stand trial in January on 30 charges of child pornography and exploitation.
Like Logan, he has never been charged in connection with the Delphi murders.
On Monday, Carter praised the hard work of the detectives, lab technicians and others on the investigative team for persevering for more than five years.
“I really believe that Abby and Libby would be proud of you for standing strong, even in the face of immense pressure and perpetual criticism,” he told them before turning back to the audience. “Some of these individuals have postposed retirement, passed on promotional opportunity, have dedicated personal time away from their families, given up nights, weekends and holidays, all in the pursuit of accountability for Abby and Libby.”
Carter said he knew the announcement would not diminish detectives’ resolve to keep investigating the case.
“I hope you have found just a bit of peace in this most complicated world,” he said.
‘We got him’
Family members of the girls responded to news of the arrest on social media.
“We got him,” tweeted Kelsi German, Libby’s older sister. “Oct. 28 was the day.”
In a tweet Monday evening, German posted a photo of the area where her sister and Abby were slain.
“We have so much more work to do but the world felt a little safer today,” she wrote.
Mike and Becky Patty expressed mixed emotions.
“It’s somewhat bittersweet, knowing it allows us to move to the next turn, the next chapter,” Mike Patty told reporters, according to the Lafayette Journal & Courier. “We’ve still got … a big mountain ahead of us. And we’re going to stay after it. We have never given up. And you guys have not given up on us. We’re going to keep pushing all the way.”
Becky Patty said she does not feel the way she thought she would when she imagined authorities finding her granddaughter’s alleged killer.
“I’ve always said that I would be screaming on the rooftop,” she said, according to the Journal & Courier. “We’re not. It’s sad.”
She said her family is trying to feel its way out of the search mode they have been in for the past five years.
Carroll County Sheriff Tobe Leazenby said his faith has helped him through the long investigation.
“I believe in a God of justice and righteousness,” Leazenby said. “Today I believe that same God has provided us with justice for Abby and Libby.”
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